Have a Heart Adoption in Rwanda

The Rwandan Civil War (1994/95) and so the genocide of innocent people caused a huge humanitarian crisis. The war left thousands of children without parents, often a few years old. The Maitri Movement initiated Have a Heart Adoption scheme in Rwanda in 1995/96 in cooperation with the Pallottines Order and the Pallottines Sisters. More than 3000 children participated in our programme over the period of 17 years. We also carried out, and still do, “the nutrition programmes” since 2013. The following Congregations help us to fight the malnutrition in Rwanda: The Pallottines Sisters (Kigali-Gikondo, Masaka, Ruhango, Ruhuha), The Pallottines Order (Kabuga), the Sisters of the Holy Angels (Nyakinama) and the Sisters of the Franciscan Servants of the Cross (Kibeho).

Education challenges in Rwanda

More than 60% of the Rwandan society was illiterate before the war. Approximately 60% of children were attending schools at the age of 9. By the time they reached 15, only 1 in 7 children would receive an education. The notebooks and pencils were the items of luxury, not to mention textbooks. Many children didn’t attend the schools because their parents couldn’t afford the school uniforms. Less than 50% of Rwandan children were able to finish the primary school with no chance to continue it further. Only tiny percentage of pupils enrolled in the secondary schools. These were the rich families’ children, able to cover high costs of an education.

The situation of the youth is very difficult. Unable to receive an education and without the support from the foster parents, they are on their own. The older children usually have to provide for their younger siblings. They tend to escape from the smaller villages to Kigali, the capital of the country. The girls, sadly turn to prostitution. Many women return to their homes at a later stage, often HIV positive or pregnant. The boys tend to get involved in robberies and end up in prisons. In some cases, the children die on the streets.

The children in Rwanda want to attend the schools. They understand that an education can help them to realise the dreams of a better life. The secondary school qualifications can significantly change the child’s situation. It is much easier to find a job, especially when there are so many illiterate people in the country. The children become independent and increase their social status. Educated girls have also a greater chance to get married.